From When He Comes Home from The War: When His Parents Have Gone to Sleep

When his parents have gone to sleep, * sneaks out the back door and around to the carport. He opens the trashcan into which he deposited the snake earlier in the day and leans into the can’s depth, the plastic cutting into his waist. He grasps one heavy roll in each of his hands and pulls up, piling them on his shoulders and walking back to the patio. He lies the two halves approximately where they lay in the day, side by side, the severed ends touching. From his pocket he takes a travel sewing kit and opens its plastic cover. With some difficulty, in the dark, he threads the needle.

For the next hour and fifteen minutes he works to bind the snake’s thick scales with the mending kit. He goes once around the cylinder of its body and then a second time, to be sure. There is no magic to the night. No wind. When he stands and lifts the snake lightly from the patio he can feel the weakness where he cut it but the tightness, too, of the snake to itself. He sits cross-legged before the lifeless body for some time before he stands, picks it up, and slings it whole over his shoulder. Underneath the carport, he dumps the heavy length into the trash can again. He secures the plastic lid and unfurls its handle, bending the bin sideways and rolling it on its wheels down the driveway. He leaves it on the strip of grass between the sidewalk and the curb. Garbage is not for another four days. * turns and walks back up the drive to sleep.

Dennis James Sweeney studies fiction in the MFA program at Oregon State University. His work has appeared in places like Alice Blue, DIAGRAM, Juked, and Spork.